Thursday, April 01, 2010

So Long Dave. I Feel Bad

I’ve been writing Frank Helps You Think It All Out- and its ‘zine predecessor since 2001- and in that time I’ve only called for the head of one figure in my immediate realm of interest. That being said, I had a word document already prepared, noodled over, asking Tulane to relieve Dave Dickerson of his duties as Tulane’s coach of men’s basketball. In short, I was pretty close to powerlessly editorializing- the prime function of America’s blogging community. In the end, Coach Dickerson walked the plank of his own accord.

Like most Tulanians, I have high regard for Coach as a human being. He stuck by the university during the Katrina experience. His players were classy and graduated like crazy. He never caused our university one iota of embarrassment. When he was hired, I editorialized that he was a good pick. Even a year ago, I was on board.

In the end, it did not work out. After five years, Coach has fixed what he could fix. In fact, it is hard to point to just what is improving now around Coach Dave.

The Coach Toledo experience is one of never-ending long term “improvement”, an everlasting series of humiliations where, in the words of one yowgf poster, Toledo is “teaching Tulane how to win”. In contrast, for Coach Dave, these last two seasons have felt like long range perspective is over, the time to show improvement is now. With Toledo, whole years drift by- while the past fifty basketball games or so were direct referendums on the program.

And little was better. I watched way too much of the NIT Final Four over the weekend- and who on Tulane could play real minutes for Ole Miss, Dayton, Rhode Island- and forget about North Carolina? The talent here at Tulane is like one step over Rice or something.

And basketball at Tulane is not football, the inherited cultural situation is not without hope. You can win as a mid-major. The League isn’t horrid- it is a mid-major with a pulse on a half-a-dozen campuses. Most teams in mid-major basketball have athletic facilities on par or worse than Tulane- and very few have a better campus and story (urban, New Orleans, etc.). You don’t need a ton of money to win. You could draw a “good for college basketball” 3500 to home games regularly with a competitive product. And that level of support has been done here within the last decade. Tulane simply ought to be better than awful.

Football may be doomed to failure at Tulane. You could make the argument. But Tulane basketball not only should not be fruitless, but should be one of the nation’s top 150 programs. An average coach doing an average job should be in the NIT conversation. A good coach might even make the big show on merit.

And Dave was not getting them there- and I don’t see how he was going to. Five years- and no cemented pipeline of talent, no evidence of being able to coach up the resultant third tier recruits to the second tier. You gotta do one or the other- get the second tier guy or coach up the third tier. Name one big man he developed? Show me a player who was much better technically, rather than just growing into his athleticism, when he left? Coach never recruited or developed anyone of note in five years. Ultimately, where was the first team all C-USA player?

Ultimately, it cannot get worse. It would almost be impossible to draw fewer fans or win, say, six, with this schedule? So let’s see if a new guy can do better- particularly since coach gave them an easy out.

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